Roadmap Planner as a Project Management ToolReading Time: 5 minutes
For project managers to be able to tell the story of their projects quickly, the project roadmap becomes a key visual tool. Be it setting expectations or updating the management team and stakeholders, a well-thought-out and visually appealing project roadmap is an essential component of any project planning documentation.
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Once you go through this piece, you’ll learn what a project roadmap is and what crucial components must be included in your roadmap. We’ll discuss some common misconceptions related to project roadmaps. Also, you’ll find our suggestions for what tools to use in project planning and development to solve this whole project management puzzle.
- Project Roadmap – What It is, and What It isn’t
- Who Needs Project Roadmap, and When?
- What Elements to Include in Your Project Roadmap
- How to Start Building Project Roadmap
Project Roadmap – What It is, and What It isn’t
Project roadmaps provide an easy-to-understand, high-level overview of the important stages and pieces of a project. Think about them as a resource that can be shared with employees and stakeholders to provide a snapshot of the project’s goals, key deliverables, important milestones, possible risks, and dependencies.
Benefits of the Project Roadmap
When a project manager compiles the project roadmap, they get a key communication tool. With it, prior to and during the project kickoff, they can set appropriate expectations, highlight important components, and share high-level plans of the work to come.
Assuming that you’ve gathered the right project contributors and stakeholders at the table, a proper project roadmap allows to set the stage for the success of your project. To ensure this, see that you use the simple, graphical nature of this tool to the fullest. Ideally, it should be a clear, easy-to-digest infographic that will communicate the project’s most critical details to any interested parties.
What Project Roadmap is Not
- A Project Plan
Here is one common misconception. While a project plan can be connected to a product roadmap, the former is the backbone of a project once it’s underway. Certain critical components that form a functional project plan (e.g. resource management, critical path, start and finish dates) are too detailed to include them in a project roadmap.
- A Project Charter
This is a tool to keep your team and stakeholders on the same page, guiding them toward the same goal, operating from the same playbook. Sure, the project roadmap may share some elements with your charter, but it is actually more effective for communicating with a wider audience. This is the angle that you should approach it from.
- A Resource Management Tool
Obviously, you want to see how resources are allocated across your projects, and you should have a tool to make sure your people aren’t overextended and are working on the right areas. But this requires a level of detail that’s too in-depth for a project roadmap.
- A Product Roadmap
The names’ resemblance is probably what confuses some people. A product roadmap holds information about a development-focused undertaking with a product as an end goal. It is typically more detailed than a project roadmap needs to be.
- An Epic
In Agile practice, a large chunk of work that may include multiple tasks and shares a single common objective is called an epic. A project roadmap, by contrast, can outline multiple goals and include supporting information.
Who Needs Project Roadmap, and When?
Even though project managers are usually the ones to create project roadmaps, team members, product owners and managers, external and internal stakeholders, and customers also use it.
Project roadmaps can be found in all sorts of industries, e.g. enterprise, healthcare, or education. They are applicable in many types of projects, including:
- Marketing plan or project
- Strategy development
- IT strategy
- New business development
- Project portfolio management
- Technology project
What Elements to Include in Your Project Roadmap
Project managers have to pull themselves out of the weeds and concentrate on the high-level details to build an effective project roadmap. It needs to be highly visual and concise – you want to fit everything on one page. Aim to create a quick snapshot of your project for viewers to digest at a glance.
The following are the key elements of the project roadmap and their execution in the Roadmap Planner app.
High-Level Project Overview
Be concise and brief when documenting your objectives, priorities, and goals for each initiative. Always aim for a few sentences at most.
In Roadmap Planner, this is provided by the Gantt-style view. It shows the project in its entirety, causing the author to boil down every task, milestone, and goal to their essence.
Shows what the general timeline of the project looks like. No need to worry about many details here — again, that’s what the project plan is for — but still map out when the work on each initiative starts, and any hard deadlines that must be met.
Roadmap Planner allows to adjust the completion status of each task in real time, helping you to stay aware of the current progress. With it, you can see how realistic your deadlines are, and if everything’s going according to plan.
Milestones in Roadmap Planner
Highlight a few important dates. Your project roadmap should clearly identify the most crucial dates from the start. Don’t forget that the visual element is vital for setting the right expectations with both your colleagues and others in your organization, e.g. stakeholders, who won’t be working on your project day in and day out.
Not inventing the wheel, Roadmap Planner has milestones that you can set for tasks and projects. This defines key stages and, most importantly, creates actionable steps on your path to the project’s success.
Your project roadmap should facilitate and guide the team collaboration. For instance, Roadmap Planner’s team control and collaboration features let PMs monitor the team’s progress, enhance teamwork, share ideas, etc.
Despite the brief nature of project roadmaps, you still want to provide an estimate of the human resources and cost needed to see the end of your project. When requesting personnel, ensure they have enough time to complete what you need; or if they don’t, consider reorganizing teams and adequately dividing the workload.
Roadmap Planner offers plenty of ways to plan and allocate resources. Whatever those are – human resources, budget, materials, documents, etc. – you can assign them to the respective projects and tasks. This way, anyone looking at your roadmap gets a clear understanding of which resources go where, and how your priorities are set.
Support Feedback Loop
The feedback loop is a system where some or all of the feedback is used as input for future operations. The most common form of it in project management is “build-measure-learn”. Creating some form of a feedback loop is important if you wish to see your project evolve over time.
Roadmap Planner helps establish a feedback loop on many levels, from ideas backlogging to their implementation via agile team management.
How to Start Building Project Roadmap
Alright, this is a bottomless topic, but we have to stop somewhere. A piece of parting advice, in case you’d like to try building your own project roadmap, but don’t want to spend time or money on this. Then you certainly should check out some of the premade templates in Roadmap Planner using free 14-day trial.